Regarded as one of the most beautiful and vibrant cities in all of America, San Francisco is the cultural and commercial heart of North California. With incredible landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, Fisherman's Wharf and Alcatraz, the city is hugely popular with both domestic and international tourists, and one of the increasingly popular activities people are enjoying in the San Francisco area is kayaking. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
2.The Best Kayaking Companies in San Francisco
3.The Top Kayaking Spots in San Francisco
Best Kayaking in San Francisco
- Overview, Photo: Photo_Time/stock.adobe.com
- The Best Kayaking Companies in San Francisco, Photo: Stephen Finn/stock.adobe.com
- The Top Kayaking Spots in San Francisco, Photo: Stephen Finn/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Stephen Finn - Fotolia.com
Attraction Spotlight: Alcatraz Island
Alcatraz Island is a world-renowned military fortification and once federal prison on an island in the middle of the San Francisco Bay. Located just over a mile off the shore of San Francisco, the small island included structures such as a military fortification and a lighthouse, a military prison (1868) and a federal prison from 1934 until 1963. The island was opened to the public as a national recreation area in 1972 and designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1986.
Alcatraz Island was first documented by Spaniard Juan Manual de Ayala in 1775 while charting San Francisco Bay. He aptly named the island ‘La Isla de Los Alcatraces’ (‘Island of Pelicans’), which was home to huge flocks of the birds, and which later became known as Alcatraz for short. The Spanish built several small buildings and other minor structures on the island. Today, the island features the oldest operating lighthouse on the West Coast of the United States, early military fortifications, an abandoned prison and several rock pools with a seabird colony. Landmarks on the island include Building 64, the Lighthouse, the Officer’s Club and a Recreation Yard, among others.
Alcatraz Island was set aside specifically as a United States military reservation by President Millard Fillmore by 1850 to be utilized for military purposes based upon the U.S. acquisition of California from Mexico as a result from the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the Mexican-American War. Following the procurement of California and the onset of the California Gold Rush, Alcatraz Island was fortified to be used as a coastal battery to protect the approaches to San Francisco Bay and became known as Fortress Alcatraz in 1858. The first garrison to call the island home had 200 soldiers and 11 cannons. The Island served as an arsenal for storage of firearms during the American Civil War, and later during the war to imprison Confederate sympathizers.
Alcatraz was used to house prisoners of war during the Civil War due to the island’s isolation from the outside world and the strong, hazardous currents of the San Francisco Bay. Following the war, the army changed the plans for Alcatraz from a place of coastal defense to detention, and in 1867 a brick jailhouse was built, and the island officially became a detention facility for military prisoners. Alcatraz continued to act as a military prison during the Spanish-American War and was formally named as the Western U.S. Military Prison in 1907 and later the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks in 1915.
The United States Disciplinary Barracks on Alcatraz Island was bought by the United States Department of Justice in 1933 and became a federal prison a year later. During the following 29 years that the island prison was in use, it held some of the most notorious criminals in American history, including Al Capone, Mickey Cohen, Bumpy Johnson, and James ‘Whitey’ Bulgar, among others. The penitentiary’s claim to fame is that during the 29 years of operation, no prisoner successfully escaped.
The prison was shut down in 1963 due to escalating costs and was later listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976 and designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1986. Today, the island is a popular tourist attraction.
Native American Occupation
In 1969, Alcatraz Island saw a group of Native Americans known as the United Indians of All Tribes led by Mohawk activist Richard Oakes to claim the land on behalf of ‘Indians of All Tribes.’ The group, who wanted new facilities such as an education and ecology center, and a cultural center built, remained on the island for two years During this time, President Richard Nixon rescinded the Indian termination policy and established a new policy of self-determination. The occupation of Alcatraz Island ended on June 11, 1971.
Alcatraz Island is located in the center of San Francisco Bay and is open to the public every day of the week from 8:45 am to 8:45 pm. The island is accessible by ferries run by the Hornblower Cruises ferry company from Pier 33 near the Fisherman’s Wharf in Sab Francisco, and visitors can enjoy guided tours of the island and its facilities. The Dock Ranger Station and Theater is located near the dock on Alcatraz and presents an orientation film about the island, features several exhibits about Alcatraz's wildlife and the American Indian occupation (1969-1971), and a bookstore.
San Francisco, CA 94133, Phone: 415-561-4900
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Hotel Spotlight: Hotel Vitale in San Francisco, California
Hotel Vitale is a luxurious waterfront hotel located on the Embarcadero in the heart of San Francisco’s vibrant downtown district. Part of the Joie de Vivre hotel group, this urban oasis soaks up the natural beauty of its surroundings, including the iconic Bay Bridge and its bright Bay Lights with breathtaking views from the hotel’s private terraces and offer deluxe accommodations to suit both business and leisure travelers.
The boutique California hotel features stylish and sophisticated guest rooms and suites with fresh color palettes, luxurious limestone bathrooms, and modern amenities including fully-stocked honor bars. First-class facilities at the hotel range from an award-winning restaurant and full-service day spa to fully equipped business and fitness centers. Gracious hospitality and service excellence are part of the stay and promise an unforgettable San Francisco hotel experience.
Ideally located for exploring the beautiful Bay area, the boutique hotel is just a few blocks from San Francisco’s historic Ferry Building, as well as some of the city’s best restaurants, bars, world-renowned shopping, and attractions.
Hotel Vitale in California features a range of beautifully appointed guest rooms and suites in various sizes and layouts, all of which include king-size beds in designer linens, feather or foam pillows and plush comforters, and en-suite spa-style limestone bathrooms with shower/tub combinations, deluxe towels and bath amenities by Jonathan Adler. Modern amenities abound and include spacious workstations with ergonomic desk chairs, direct dial telephones, and complimentary wireless Internet, as well as flat-screen televisions with satellite channels, Bose sound systems with Bluetooth functionality, fully stocked honor bars and mini fridges.
Landmark Terrace Suites feature king-size beds with plush linens, two full spa-style limestone bathrooms with shower/tub combinations, separate living rooms with comfortable seating and private terraces with glass sliding doors and gorgeous views over the Bay.
Deluxe Panoramic Circular Suites feature king-size beds with plush linens, spa-style limestone bathrooms with deep soaking tubs and rain showers for two, separate living areas with modern amenities, comfortable seating and floor-to-ceiling windows with spectacular views of the Bay Bridge.
Terrace Suites are located on the sixth to eighth floors and feature wooden floors, custom-designed furniture and oriental rugs, queen-size Murphy beds in plush linens, spa-style limestone bathrooms with shower/tub combinations and private terraces with lounge furniture and heat lamps.
Urban Studios feature queen-size Murphy beds in luxurious linens, spa-style limestone bathrooms with deep soaking tubs, and large curved windows boasting city skyline views.
Embarcadero Waterview King and Queen Suites are found on the third to eighth floors and feature king-size or queen-size beds in plush linens, spa-style limestone bathrooms with deep soaking tubs and rain showers for two, separate living areas with modern amenities and bay windows with expansive views of the San Francisco Bay.
Partial Waterview King and Queen Suites feature king-size or queen-size beds in plush linens, spa-style limestone bathrooms with deep soaking tubs and rain showers for two and partial views of the San Francisco Bay, while SF City View King and Queen Suites boast beautiful city views.
Americano is an award-winning restaurant and cocktail lounge that serves a creative menu of Italian cuisine, fine Italian wines, and signature cocktails. Set against a backdrop of stunning views of the San Francisco Bay, a chic cocktail lounge, and an outdoor patio provides an idyllic setting for guests to enjoy the sublime cuisine and wine served in style. The menu features traditional and modern takes on Italian fare using locally sourced ingredients, prepared with robust and rustic flavor and presented with flair. The cuisine is accompanied by a selection of fine Italian wines, as well as local and international vintages, craft beers, and handcrafted cocktail and imported spirits.
Amenities at the Hotel Vitale include the award-winning restaurant and cocktail lounge, Americano that serves a handcrafted Italian menu and handcrafted cocktails against a backdrop of breathtaking views of the San Francisco Bay. Other amenities range from a full-service day spa that offers pampering and indulgent massages and body treatments, a 24-hour business center with computer workstations, printing, copying and fax services and complimentary wireless Internet, and a fully equipped fitness center with state-of-the-art equipment.
The luxurious Spa Vitale offers a range of pampering and indulgent body treatments, massages, facials, and salon services such as manicures and pedicures. The penthouse-level Spa features elegant treatment rooms, a private bamboo garden and deep soaking tubs and a menu that includes Deep Tissue Massage, Hot Stone Massage, Couple’s Massage and Body Wraps and Scrubs.
Hotel Vitale offers an array of functional and versatile spaces for a variety of events such as weddings, receptions, corporate functions, meetings and other special occasions with beautiful views of the Bay. The hotel offers elegant indoor and outdoor spaces for special occasions for up to 80 guests and can arrange special event services such as catering, floral arrangements, audiovisual technologies and more on request.
Function and event spaces include the Amalfi Coast Room, which is located on the first floor and ideal for seminars, banquets and other social occasions with seating for up to 100 guests. The Capri Boardroom can accommodate up to 12 guests in a boardroom-style setting, while the 1,080 square-foot Plaza Terrace is the perfect place for an outdoor reception or cocktail party with spectacular views of the Embarcadero, the Ferry Terminal Building, and the Bay. The hotel offers several studios with beautiful terraces which can also be used for private occasions such as the Landmark Terrace, the Terrazzo Terrace, and the Cielo Terrace.
8 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94105, Phone: 415-278-3788
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Venue Spotlight: Trocadero Clubhouse
Nestled in Sigmund Stern Grove, the charming and picturesque Trocadero Clubhouse, also known as the Stern Grove Clubhouse provides a spectacular site for romantic wedding receptions and other special celebrations.
Amenities & Services
The Trocadero Clubhouse is located on Wawona Street in the heart of San Francisco, is wheelchair accessible, and offers private parking for guests. San Francisco offers a wealth of interesting things to see and do such as the famous coastal 17-Mile Drive. Hailed as one of the most scenic drives in the world, the famous coastal 17-Mile Drive stretches along the Monterey coastline through the exclusive suburbs of Pebble Beach and Pacific Grove and into the magical Del Monte Forest. This famous coastal landmark winds its way through the gated community of Pebble Beach, which is home to the world-renowned Pebble Beach Golf Links and continues along the coastline, boasting breathtaking vistas and panoramic views.
Enjoy this scenic drive for just $10, and marvel at some of nature’s riches found including The Lone Cypress, one of California’s best-known landmarks that are situated in the vast Del Monte Forest; Bird Rock, the Cypress Point Lookout and Spanish and Carmel Bays. Take in the magnificent jade fairways of The Links at Spanish Bay, Spyglass Hill, and Cypress Point.
Wawona St, San Francisco, CA 94132, Phone: 415-831-5500
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Venue Spotlight: Swedenborgian Church of San Francisco
The Swedenborgian Church of San Francisco is a historic Arts & Crafts chapel with a beautifully manicured garden located in the picturesque Pacific Heights neighborhood in San Francisco. The National Historic Landmark is famous for its century-old tradition of celebrating beautiful ceremonies and provides an unforgettable setting for a wedding ceremony. Built in 1895, the church features rustic cabin-like decor that reflects the love of nature central to its little-known theology with exposed wooden beams, and a fireplace crackling with smoky flames that exudes the ambiance of a cozy backcountry cabin. One of the first examples of the Arts and Crafts architectural movement in North America, the rustic interior was designed and built by a cadre of notable artisans and craftspeople who were inspired by the creator of the church’s denomination, the 18th-century Swedish philosopher, theologian, and mystic Emanuel Swedenborg. The church has an active and vibrant congregation rooted in the Swedenborgian tradition, however, is available for non-denominational weddings and is open to people of all backgrounds.
Locations in the Church include the Sanctuary, which has 77 chairs plus benches on the sides and can accommodate up to 120 seated or standing guests. The Parish House can hold 84 guests for a formal sit down dinner reception and up to 100 for a casual, standing only-style reception. The Parish House is used for receptions and for rehearsal dinners, and is conveniently located next to the Church and overlooks the garden, which can be used for cocktail hour.
Amenities & Services
The rental of the Swedenborgian Church of San Francisco for a wedding ceremony only includes the use of the sanctuary and garden, the assistance of a wedding hostess who oversees the wedding and is on site to help facilitate with set-up and clean-up, a wedding rehearsal, all candles in the church, a fire in the fireplace, dressing room and use of the garden for wedding photos. Rental for a wedding ceremony and reception Includes all of the above, as well as the use of the Parish House and tables and chairs for eight hours total. A professional wedding hostess will be on-site to help with directing the set-up and break-down of the wedding.
The Swedenborgian Church of San Francisco is located at 2107 Lyon Street in San Francisco, is wheelchair accessible, and offers private parking for guests. San Francisco offers a wealth of fun things to see and do in and around the city. Stretching for 3.5 miles with more seabirds than people, Ocean Beach is San Francisco’s largest and most relaxed beach. Warm days call for beachcombing, sunbathing or playing in the surf, however, the cold water and strong currents make swimming hazardous. Brisk winds are great for kite-flying, and experienced surfers can enjoy some sound waves. The beach is almost always covered in fog throughout late spring and summer, so be sure to take some warm clothes. At night, the beach is dotted with glowing bonfires, which are a great place to meet new friends, and the Cliff House and Beach Chalet offer colorful cocktails, a great menu, and beautiful beach views.
The golden icon of San Francisco, and one of the most internationally recognized symbols in the world, the Golden Gate Bridge is not to be missed! Spanning the Golden Gate Strait, this impressive suspension bridge is 4,200 feet (1,300 m) long and is best viewed up close – hike or bike across the bridge for spectacular views of the city. For the best bridge views, head to the Presidio and Crissy Fields on the San Francisco side, which are also fun locales to explore. If you are looking for a healthy adventure, hike up the Marin Headlands and along the ridge to the left and down the hill into Sausalito, where you can catch the ferry back to San Francisco. Enjoy beautiful bridge views from the water!
2107 Lyon St., San Francisco, CA 94115, Phone: 415-346-6468
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